Archive for the media failure Category

Death Is Unfair

Posted in media failure, politics, randoma with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Death is ridiculously unfair.  To some, death is the act of a kind, loving God, seeking to bring home his favoured soul when their time on earth was done, their divine mission fulfilled; to others, death is just the random end of life.  Either way, it’s unfair.

Don’t believe me?  See my examples (and please note I am not calling for the deaths of any of these people; I’m just saying that Death could have made better choices):

Senator Ted "Health Care Reform Is My Life's Work" Kennedy: Dead

Senator Joe "Shut Up And Die, Poor People" Lieberman: Alive

Death is unfair.

George "Brilliant Comedian" Carlin: Dead

Dane "The Actually Funny Guy Is Above Me" Cook: Alive

Death is unfair.

Edward R. "Good Night, And Good Luck" Murrow: Dead and still smokin'!

Sean "Good Night, And You're Fucked Because Obama Is A Socialist Who Wants To Take Your Guns And Your Health Care And Sleep With All The White Women" Hannity: Alive, damn it

Death Is SUPER Unfair. It really is.

William F. "Best Man In The Republican Party" Buckley: Dead

Ann "Best-Looking Man In The Republican Party" Coulter: Alive

Death is really f***ing unfair, and also really really hates the living.

I’m just saying, death is unfair.

VS – 12.15.09

On Racism

Posted in media failure, politics, racism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2009 by vagabondsaint

I have been thinking, for the past few days, about racism.

“Racism” is being launched into the airwaves fairly often nowadays.  While conventional left and middle wisdom do not blame racism solely for the. . .vociferousness of protests against health care  reform and President Obama, the pundits certainly do seem to believe that racism is a significant factor in the protests.

And they’re right.

You hear President Obama being called a fascist, a socialist, a Marxist, a Kenyan, a communist, and more by people who, when confronted, seem hard-pressed to define any of the labels that they’re throwing at him (except Kenyan, and honestly, I doubt that many of them could even find Kenya’s general location on a map or, as much as they claim to love and want to preserve the Constitution, seem to remember that as long Obama’s mother was an American citizen, he is an American citizen, no matter where he was born).  The man can’t even continue the tradition of giving a Presidential address to schoolchildren without right-wing parents getting up in arms about it, for fuck’s sake!  (For the record, I am proud to say that my daughter’s school didn’t send anything home or call any parents about the speech and showed it at the scheduled time without fanfare or fallout.)  If you take a good, hard look at the people protesting, and the ludicrous claims and scare tactics coming from a very vocal minority of this country, I promise that you too will be left with the strong impression is that what these people are really angry about is the black man in the White House.

Racism.  There’s that word again.

Racism, I believe, has a basis in primal human nature.  It is natural to fear what is different from one’s self, from one’s own experience.  It is also a natural human reaction to be fearful of change.  The loss of what is familiar, what is comfortable, what is known, can be a very frightening thing, and that is a natural reaction, to be afraid of the unknown.  However, fear of difference and fear of the unknown can and often do turn into dislike, disdain, prejudice, hatred. . .racism.  What we’re seeing in these protests is the result of fear not only left unchecked, but, in many cases, fed and nurtured and used by leaders, elected or otherwise, on the political right until it either mutated into racism or merged with already-held prejudices and became an even bigger monster (but not a monster dumb enough to forget to cloak its true nature by tossing out a “social-Marxist-fascist” smokescreen).

And the left shares the blame.

Yeah, I said it.  The political left is partly to blame for these protests.

How so?  By trying to enact reform beneficial to all Americans?  By winning new congressional majorities in the last two elections? By daring to put a black man in the White House?

No.

By demonizing people who were just afraid.

Remember what I said about it being an intrinsic part of primal human nature to fear change, to fear the unknown, to fear what is different from oneself?  It is.  And instead of talking to these people and trying to understand why they were afraid and calm their fears, the left instead labeled them “racists” and “rednecks”  and “ignorant” and ostracized them, shunned them, tried to make them ashamed of merely being human, being afraid. . .and drove them right into the open arms of the people on the right that were willing to use them for ratings, for money, for political power.  A lot of these people were just scared of a strange face, a face unlike their own, and when they turned on their TV to look for answers, they saw, instead of reports emphasizing the commonalities of all people and how the President is just a man like any other, they saw emphasis of difference and division: the first black President, the relevance of the black vote, the Latino vote, the Asian vote, the white vote, and the people who looked like them, who were largely white and older, being labeled as “racists” and “opponents” of change.  I’m not saying that some of those labels weren’t correctly applied; far from it.  I’m saying that the labels got overused and, in their overuse, succeeded more in alienating a section of the population than in actually hurting their intended targets. . .leading to those feeling alienated and disenfranchised right now, holding up signs of Obama with a Hitler mustache and parroting the words of the people who gave them ways to channel their fear into a cause instead of making them feel ashamed for being afraid.

For being human.

Don’t get me wrong;  I’m not defending racism at all.  I’m saying that the left blew a chance to win over many of the hearts and minds that they drove to the side of the extreme right-wing demagogues.

It’s not too late to correct the mistake.  It takes understanding, compassion, and most of all, calm, reasonable, logical debate.  Understand that these are not necessarily bad people on the other side of the debate.  Have the compassion to listen, and in debate, give them the knowledge, of human commonalities, that can defeat a fear of the unknown, of another people.  Remind them, hell, show them that most African-Americans are not gangsta rappers, most Asians are not martial arts experts, most Muslims are not terrorists, and most Latinos don’t even know who Carlos Mencia is.  Knowledge is really the only way to defeat the media-promulgated stereotypes and show everybody (because there are minority racists, too) that we are, as our President said, far more alike than we are different.

Not doing this, not fighting back with knowledge, will only lead to more of the same thing thing you’ve seen this summer: more loud voices covering fear with nationalism or patriotism, more walls of anger with fear hiding behind them, until finally people stop yelling and start acting. When that happens, then, if nothing else, we’ll know for sure one commonality:  everybody’s blood is red.

VS – 09.17.09

The Good, The Bad, and The F***ing Bizarre #3: A Frank, A Flora, A Phallic Fallacy

Posted in brilliance, media failure, politics, randoma, rant, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by vagabondsaint

The Good:  Barney Speaks Frankly

You know how elected officials always have to be respectful and gentle with their constituents, no matter what level of insanity or inanity is currently issuing from said constituent’s mouth like a tidal wave of crazy?  Well, that behaviour has been tested quite a bit in the recent town hall meetings on the healthcare debate.  No one wants to be seen as making light of their constituent’s concerns, no matter how baseless, derogatory, or outright ludicrous those concerns are, right?

Right!

For everyone except Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank.

For those of us that have been wishing our elected representatives would stand up to the whackos showing up and town hall meetings and loudly displaying their ignorance, Barney Frank’s recent town hall was a godsend.  Check out how he handles a woman who calls the health care reform bills “a Nazi policy” (because the Nazis were all about making sure everyone had affordable health care).

Thank you, Barney Frank!  We need people to stand up to these ridiculous claims and assertions coming from the right, someone willing to call a spade a spade and show how baseless and inane these scare tactics are!

Barney Frank is my hero right now.

The Bad: Giant Rat-Eating Plant Discovered

You read that correctly:  a plant big enough to eat rats has been discovered.  Even more frightening, it’s been named after David Attenborough!

This is bad in several ways.

One, if plants have gotten big enough to eat rodents, how long do we have before they get big enough to eat people?  Clearly the plants are on a mission to stop killing humans through allergies and pretty-looking poisonous plants and just go for outright eating us!  The plants must be stopped, now, before it’s too late!

Stop the plants before anyone other than Rick Moranis suffers!

Stop the plants before anyone other than Rick Moranis suffers!

The second thing that is really scary about this is that the plant was named after Sir David Attenborough.  While those of us who know who Attenborough is know him as the soft-voiced narrator of a bajillion nature shows and a harmless, endlessly curious naturalist, the decision to name a carnivorous plant after him makes me wonder: what do the botanists know about Attenborough that the rest of us don’t? Clearly there’s some rodent-sized skeletons in his closet!  The world needs to know the truth about Sir David Attenborough!  Is he on the side of the carnivorous plants?  Is he even now preparing England for their invasion?  Has he been seduced to the green side by Poison Ivy?

Sometimes treason is completely understandable.

Sometimes treason is completely understandable.

Whatever Attenborough’s hiding, we need to know!

The F***ing Bizarre: Professional Dick Fears For His Own

I’ve read this article several times, looking for the punchline.  Either I haven’t found it or the humour is just so subtle that I can’t see it.

Rush Limbaugh and Jay-Z having a “beef”?  President Obama is coming to cut your penis?  Rush Limbaugh being on anyone’s balls without crushing them beyond repair?

It’s just. . .I can’t make jokes about this.  It makes too many jokes about itself.  Just read the article, seriously.

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Thanks for the reading this installment!  Be here next time when things get even stranger!

VS – 8.26.09

The Good, The Bad, And The F***ing Bizarre #2: Of Groped Mice, Angry Men, Anti-Racist Geckos And Kiddy-Porn-Lovin’ Cats

Posted in evil cats, media failure, politics, randoma, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Welcome to the next installment of The Good, The Bad, and The F***ing Bizarre!

The Good: Geico Saves A Bunch Of Money

Geico Insurance announced today that it would be saving itself a bunch of money by no longer advertising on Glenn Beck’s short bus to Crazytown FOX News show!

Not looking at Glenn Beck

Not looking at Glenn Beck

Mr. Beck claimed last week on long walk off a short, insane pier Fox And Friends that President Obama is a “racist,” with a “deep-seated hatred of white people, or white culture.”  He, of course, offered no evidence to back up this claim, unless one considers the deep, abiding love and respect that Obama has for his late Caucasian mother and grandparents to be indicative of a secret hatred for them.

Don’t bother re-reading that.  It won’t make any more sense the second time.

Beck later came 3 steps back down the nutjob ladder clarified his statement by saying that he never said that Obama doesn’t like white people, only that he hates them, and that Obama “has a problem.”  Somebody has a problem, and it has something to do with a lack of a dictionary.

The walk-back didn’t do enough to appease, well, any thinking person, leading to several petitions and movements calling on advertisers to stop supporting Beck’s crazy-tinged hate speech show by pulling advertising.  Geico responded to one of these, emailing ColorOfChange to notify them that they had pulled their advertising as of August 4.  Men’s Wearhouse and Sargento have likewise announced that they have pulled their advertising from the idiot parade Beck’s show.

So, let’s here it for advertisers finally taking some responsibility for the content of the shows they sponsor, eh?  I think that’s pretty good!

The Bad: Health Care Reform Town Hall Protests

I’m all for civil discourse, and we should all have the right to question our elected officials and get answers from them.  It’s a free exercise of the First Amendment, to voice our concerns.  That’s part of what America is all about, right?

So what’s my problem with the people who are protesting at town halls?

Well, aside from their being so ignorant as to not know that Medicare is socialized medicine run by the government, their stated tactics of being loud, disruptive, and shouting whenever anyone, including the elected officials, tries to speak are the complete opposite of what the First Amendment stands for.  They are denying the same rights they claim to be exercising to others, which is about as unpatriotic as one can get.  Your rights do not include to right to trample on someone else’s rights.

I’m not going to say more about than that these protests are a bad thing, for both the health care debate in particular and America in general.  If you’re wondering why I say that, just wait until one of these Astroturf protests comes to serious blows and people start getting hurt or killed.  It’s coming, I promise.

The F***ing Bizarre: Bizarre Games Of Cats And Mice

Two very strange things for this one.

The first,and a great thanks to my best friend for bringing this to my attention, is the Florida man arrested for possession of child pornography, after police found over 1,000 such images on his personal computer.  This is, so far, remarkable only for the ongoing exploitative debacle that is the stain in humanity’s underwear commonly known as child pornography.

Where it gets interesting is the man’s excuse for the pornography being on his computer:  his cat did it.

I swear, I am not making that up.

The man claims that his cat downloaded the images by “jumping on the keyboard” when he left the room.

Any time that you think your cat hates you, just remember:  it hasn’t yet tried to frame you for a crime that will get you shanked in the prison yard.

Yet.

The second item of note is again from Florida, but involves a man getting too friendly with a mouse. . .specifically, Minnie Mouse.

A 60-year-old Pennsylvania man has been convicted of misdemeanor battery for groping Minnie Mouse, or rather, a woman in a Minnie Mouse costume, at Walt Disney World in Orlando. According to the accosted woman, she “had to do everything possible” to keep his hands away from her chests.  You know, there’s just so many jokes that could be made here, but out of respect for what was no doubt a traumatizing experience for that poor lady, I’ll refrain.

I do believe I have said before that furries are harmless.  Let me amend that:  most furries are harmless.

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That’s it for this installment. . .till next time, please try to avoid watching Glenn Beck, being an idiotic ass at a town hall meeting, being framed for a serious felony by your cat, and feeling up anybody in an anthropomorphic animal costume!

I’ll see the ones of you that manage to do all of that next time!

VS – 8.11.09

Shut The F*** Up And Talk To Me

Posted in media failure, politics, rant with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2009 by vagabondsaint

A few months ago, I read an aticle in the Huffington Post about “he said – she said” journalism.  I intended to blog about it, but got distracted with moving and various other crises.  I can’t find the article – I tried as much as my tired brain would allow – but I’ll do my best to sum it up for you.

“He said, she said” journalism is, in a nutshell, presenting both sides (usually liberal and conservative) or a particular issue without repudiation or mentioning the facts of the situation.  It is far more prevalent in modern journalism than it used to be, and there is, according to the article, a number of reasons for it:  a desire by corporate news organizations not to offend anyone by pointing out their fallacies or appearing to support one viewpoint ver another, even if the facts are in support of one position and completely invalidate the other. News divisions of a company not wanting to hinder or conflict with other departments of the same parent company.  Wanting to appear fair and give equal time to opposing viewpoints leaves little room for truth.  Restrictive news budgets don’t have the funds for investigative journalism.  Modern mainstream media journalists have no balls.  (Okay, I made that last one up.)

Think I’m wrong?  Pay close attention to the news that you read online (who reads papers anymore?) or what you hear on TV.  I promise you, you will hear more “this person says that, but this person says this” than you will any actual facts.  Though the writer of the article took some comfort in their observation that the trend appears to be waning, as near as I could tell it was still going strong, with little sign of abating.

With the recent passing of Walter Cronkite, this article came to my mind again, and still I didn’t blog about it.

What finally got my Irish up (no mean feat, considering my Caucasian ancestry is actually German) was an article in today’s New York Times.

As I said, I am still paying attention to the health care debate, still reading about it as much as my brain will allow, even though I have avoiding blogging about it.  This article on the health care debate, henceforth referred to as Exhibit A, is a fair example of what’s wrong with journalism and journalists today.

The article is about poll numbers reflecting growing unease about health care reform among Americans, due to the claims of opposed legislators and millions spent on negative advertising about reform from both the private insurance industries and the Republican National Committee.  It also includes quotes from President Obama about what the reform he seeks will and and will not do, as he travels the country trying to refute the claims of the opposition.  The article does great in presenting the facts of the poll, but what’s missing?

There are claims about the reform bills made by Obama and by people who answered some follow-up questions to the poll, an Iowa woman in particular. What’s missing here is whether or not these claims, from either side, bear any truth to them.  The quotes and concerns from those who answered the follow-up questions make it obvious to anyone who’s been following the bill that their concerns are coming from opposition advertising and Republican (and Blue Dog Democrat) talking points about the bills.

Anyone who’s put in a little research on the health care reform bill knows that the grand majority of the claims made by those in opposition to the bill are false.    Two examples:

Claim: “The advertisements present the overhaul as a risky experiment, or a government takeover of health care that would prevent people from choosing their own doctors.”

Truth: Well, that’s technically true.  The advertisements do make that claim.  But the genuine fact is that the health care reform bill would in no way dictate what doctors patients can or cannot see, much unlike, say, private insurance companies.  But did the NYT make mention of that fact in its article?  Nope.  It just repeated the propaganda with no clarification, refutation, or even a mild comparison to the objective truth.

Claim: “We will pay more taxes.”

Truth:  Health care reform will actually save us more money in the long run, because hospitals won’t have to adjust their fees for covering the uninsured and those unable to pay, thereby lowering the amount they charge us as individuals and what they charge the insurance companies.  Unless you make more than $250,000 a year, which the overwhelming majority of Americans do not, you will not have to pay any new taxes.  Those that do make that much money will face a 1% increase in their taxes.  No frilly new uniforms for the Guatemalan maid this year.

And one example of truth slipping into the article by mistake:

Claim: “If we do nothing, I can almost guarantee you your premiums will double over the next 10 years, because that’s what they did over the last 10 years,” Mr. Obama said. “It will eat into the possibility of you getting a raise on your job because your employer is going to be looking and saying, ‘I can’t afford to give you a raise because my health care costs just went up 10, 20, 30 percent.’ ”

Truth:  Yeah, that’s actually true.  If I recall correctly, insurance premiums double in the past ten years, while wages went up about 20%.  But, it’s the truth presented in a quote by Obama, without support from the NYT”s resarch department.  Basically, it’s fact being presented as propaganda.

There’s more, but it’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m tired.

Just remember, this is not the Podunk, Alabama Trailer Park Post presenting propaganda on both sides without clarification or facts, this is the New York fucking Times!  The Old Grey Lady!  “All the news that’s fit to print,” and this bullshit spin regurgitation is the fucking best that they can do?  Are you fucking serious?  Did they fire the fact checking department?  If it wasn’t for Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman, plus the occasional Bono editorial, I swear I’d cancel my (online) subscription.  When did the Grey Lady lose the ovarian fortitude required to call people on their bullshit?  And how can she get it back?

I wish Spider Jerusalem was real.  Until that happens, or until Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite are brought back from the dead (which would be the first thing I’d do as a mad scientist), Jon Stewart will have to do.

I do like journalism, and have often considered working in the field.  But I couldn’t do the “he said – she said” stuff.  I’m too honest to repeat someone else’s bullshit without fact-checking it first and calling them on it if they’re wrong.  This journalistic style, as Jon Stewart would put it, is “hurting America.” (Google his now-famous appearance on CNN’s Crossfire.  It’s journalistic gold.)

So this is my message to the mainstream media:  Shut the fuck up with the bullshit spin and propaganda, and really talk to me, give me some facts, let me make an informed decision based on the truth instead of two different angles of spin.

But hey, don’t take my word for it.  Pay attention to your news, whatever your source(s) may be; see how much of what you get is repeated spin and how much is actual fact.

(And thanks to my friend Christine for unwittingly contributing the title.)

VS – 7.30.09

A Vindication of Part of “Eh”

Posted in media failure, politics, racism, tv with tags , , , , , , on June 10, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Once I’d woken up and gotten a bit settled today, I read that an elderly man had started shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., killing one guard.  Tragic enough in its own right, but then it comes out that the shooter was a military veteran (albeit an 89-year-old veteran) and a racist, anti-Semitic white supremacist.

In other words, a right-wing extremist.

And again, I was reminded of the Homeland Security report, warning of right-wing extremists, and how scandalized that poor, innocent, and entirely correct report was.

And finally, finally, someone on the right – specifically, Shepard Smith of FOX News (along with Catherine Herridge, who appears to be the black sheep of the Fox Family) – admits that the report was right.

It isn’t often I find myself in agreement with so much as FOX News cameraman (their angles suck), so finding myself in agreement with Smith was a shock.  At least he was able to admit a mistake in scandalizing that report.

And that’s about all the shocks I can handle today.

VS – 6.10.09

LGBT: Let’s Give Barack Trouble

Posted in brilliance, media failure, politics, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I know I said I’d try more to stay away from mainstream media-dominating news, but I had to say something about this issue.

Leaders of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (what LGBT really stands for) community are outraged at President-elect Barack Obama already, and he hasn’t even taken office yet.  Why the outrage?  Because he dared invite prominent conservative pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at next year’s can’t-come-soon-enough inauguration.  Why the outrage?  Because Rick Warren opposes gay marriage and supported California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in that state (again).  Never mind that Warren has been trying to shift the church’s focus to the causes of international poverty and disease, especially AIDS; he opposes gay marriage, which President-elect Obama also opposes, and thus the LGBT community feels that Warren should be persona non grata, does not deserve the honor of delivering the invocation, and that Barack Obama has made a huge mistake, possibly even a betrayal of their support, in selecting Warren.

Dear LGBT community, shut up.

Instead of being pissed and bitchy that Obama picked Warren for the invocation, where’s some praise for Obama for inviting Joseph Lowery, a Methodist minister, civil rights leader, and staunch supporter of gay marriage, to deliver the benediction?  I’ve heard and seen none of that so far.

Barack Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do in his campaign:  he’s being inclusive and reaching out to everyone, including conservatives, to work together productively with them, whether he agrees with their positions or not.  He’s not going to make everybody happy with every single decision that he makes, which is impossible to do anyway, and he warned his supporters of that.  He’s focusing on the things people have in common rather than their differences, and despite their differences, Warren and Obama do agree on climate change, foreign assistance, and many other issues.  They can work together, and, to build the inclusive nation moving towards change that he wants to build, Obama will need to include conservatives.  He’s doing fine, he’s doing right.

And for those who say that Warren’s invitation means that Obama is pandering to conservatives and not moving towards change at all?

To those people, I say again, shut up.  And think, before you say anything again.

The man delivering the invocation, the opening prayer,  at the inauguration is a staunch conservative (i.e., the anti-civil rights party) that opposes gay marriage.

The man delivering the benediction, the closing prayer, at the inauguration is an old-school, worked-with-MLK, was-in-the-Selma-To-Mongomery-Marches civil rights hero who supports gay marriage.

With his selection of these two men, and their places in the inauguration ceremonies, Barack Obama has made a statement that is apparently far too subtle for the mainstream media and Obama’s detractors to see:  with his inauguration, America is moving forward from the conservatism and oppression of the past to a future with freedom and opportunity for all.  The inauguration, from beginning to end, is about moving from what has been to what will be.  It is, in essence, about change, which is what Barack Obama has been about from day one of his campaign.

It’s amazing what the larger picture reveals when one doesn’t stay stuck on small perspectives.

VS – 12.21.08